The 2013 season has been a mixed bag for Ed Carpenter.
On one hand, the owner-driver scored the pole for the Indianapolis 500 and has been the most dynamic oval competitor since the implementation of the new car at the start of last season. On the other hand, Carpenter hasn't translated those fast oval cars into wins and he hasn't qualified as well as outside of Indianapolis.
And then there is the whole road and street course thing, a discipline the 32-year-old hasn't quite wrapped his head around yet. But Carpenter is trying and learning something new every day, whether it is as a driver or a team owner.
The latter is especially true following the departure of his team manager, Derrick Walker, who recently accepted a job with IndyCar as the new head of competition and development.
As far as his own competition, Carpenter feels like his best days are ahead of him this season, especially with strong tracks like Iowa, the Indy-like Pocono International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway -- the site of his last win in 2012.
So things are looking up for Ed Carpenter.
"We have a good car and a good package," Carpenter said during Wednesday's IndyCar teleconference. "I mean, really, all of the races I think we probably, could and should have finished better than we did. That goes to show you the competition in the series right now. You have to be pretty much flawless to go out there and be on the podium.
"I think we have good cars, especially on ovals."
So there are reasons to believe a podium is just around the corner and could come as early as Sunday afternoon in the Indy Iowa Corn 250.
He finished eighth in last year's feature but turned the fastest lap of the race and passed the leader, under green, to get his lap back. He expects to contend for the top spot on Sunday, especially since heat races will take the place of qualifying to decide the starting lineup.
"The heat race format will help if we come off the truck with a really good car," Carpenter said. "Anybody that comes off the trailer with a good car, it's going to be advantageous in the heat races just because there's no other practice...
"I think it will be good for us. Like you said, we have struggled in qualifying at some places. Some of that we have answers for, others we don't. Some of it could be a one-car team, not that we use that as an excuse for anything."
The three heat races will be streamed online Saturday night at 6:45 p.m. ET on IndyCar.com. The Indy Iowa Corn 250 will take place on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.